South Sudan Peace Deal Brings New Hope

New peace deal in South Sudan greeted with optimism

President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar.  Source

President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar. Source

Current South Sudan President Salva Kiir met with former rebel leader and Vice President Riek Machar to sign a peace agreement late last year. The rivalry between the two had previously fueled the civil war in South Sudan, making it surprising to see the two smiling and shaking hands in the capital city of Juba.

The new agreement, named the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement, follows years of multiple peace agreements that have ultimately failed. The agreement is met with both skepticism and hopefulness. Alongside Kiir and Machar, former detainees and other political party leaders have agreed to sign the document. Together with lasting peace, the agreement aims to implement free and fair elections that are open to all parties, and pave the way for economic integration between the North and South parts of former Sudan.


This comprehensive peace agreement focuses on five areas that will hopefully form a lasting peace agreement. These include a permanent ceasefire, rehabilitation to the oil industry and oil wells, security reform, improvement of infrastructure and the livelihood of citizens, and implementation of outside forces to oversee the ceasefire. Both major political leaders claim to be committed to the cause and respect the documents and what follows.

The first expected hurdle will be the permanent ceasefire. The previous treaty, the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, was violated by both sides within 24 hours. In response, the Khartoum Declaration of Agreement hopes to forge one national army under one national representation. Previously, there had been two armies, making them more likely to clash. In order to have a successful ceasefire, both African Union (AU) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) member states are asked to deploy the necessary forces to make sure this ceasefire is everlasting.


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Following almost five years of war that displaced nearly a quarter million citizens and killed thousands, there is also hope that this deal will be the lasting peace South Sudan has been looking for. Machar said the agreement will end the suffering all too common in South Sudan, adding that “they will be happy soon.”

With the optimism that this agreement will bring the peace that South Sudan needs, Water for South Sudan will be able to reach out to previously unsafe communities. Furthermore, this pact aims at opening up the doors of Sudan to humanitarian aid in order to improve the lives of its citizens. Water for South Sudan will be able to get supplies needed and personnel to South Sudan in a more efficient manner, and ultimately reach out to more populations that need access to clean, safe water and hygiene education.


WFSS Teams Start 2019 Season

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Season Update

Water for South Sudan (WFSS) is pleased to announce that the 2019 season is off to a great start.

The rehab team, formed in 2017, got an early start in October, and as of Jan. 24 had rehabbed 31 older wells.

“We are very pleased with the rehab team,” notes Ater Akol “Lion” Thiep, WFSS Country Director. “The team is able to visit the older wells and assess what is needed. In addition, we are able to gather information on the use of the well over a number of years.”

Many of the older wells experience erosion on the cement platforms around the wells, and the cement drainage channels that lead to animal drinking troughs. WFSS’s improved process and design will keep these wells functional for years to come.

The drilling team started in January and has drilled five new wells as of Jan. 24. They are working in Tonj State in remote areas with limited access to gravel, and local water for drilling.

Separate hygiene education teams travel with both the drilling and rehab teams, delivering an improved curriculum on hygiene.

 

New Drilling Rigs

WFSS completed its capital campaign in 2017, with a major portion of the $1.2 million raised earmarked for a new drilling rig. Thanks to our working with PAT Rigs in Thailand, WFSS was able to purchase two rigs, the first of which arrived at our compound in Wau in January.  The 431T is a trailered rig which will be used as a back-up rig, for training, and as a complement to our larger rigs.

The new “Iron Giraffe” rig –the PAT 501, will become our main drilling rig and replace the current “Iron Giraffe” which we have had since 2008. The rig arrived on February 4. The team enthusiastically greeted the arrival

“The new rigs are a great addition for WFSS,” says Country Director Ajang “AJ” Agok. “The old rig had started breaking down. We now know we will have a reliable rig for many years to come.”

US Operations Support Coordinator Gary Prok, Lion and two team members traveled to Thailand in the fall to get hands-on training with the new rig, further cementing our relationship with the drilling rig manufacturer.

“We are very pleased with this purchase and, just as importantly, with the relationship with PAT,” said Prok. “Their support, and knowledge of drilling in the third world in general, and specifically South Sudan, will only help us further improve our procedures and outcomes.”

 

South Sudan News

WFSS keeps a close eye on developments in South Sudan, and our team on the ground serves an important role in keeping all informed. News out of South Sudan has been cautiously optimistic in recent months, with a general sense that the peace agreement signed in September, 2018, is holding. News of note includes reports that South Sudan oil fields are once again producing oil.

News of note:

South Sudan Resumes Oil Production in Former Unity State

South Sudan starts repairs, pumping oil from wells damaged in the civil war: minister

Young athletes come together in peace on National Unity Day in South Sudan

2018-19 Season Begins for Rehab Team

Children gather around newly rehabilitated well in Jur River County.

Children gather around newly rehabilitated well in Jur River County.

The WFSS team in South Sudan has been preparing for the 2018-19 season since we ended the last season in May. Plans for 2018-19 include drilling 40 new wells, rehabilitating up to 50 older wells, and providing hygiene education in every village where we drill or rehab a well. We will also continue monitoring the pilot latrine project that was installed this year at Zogolona Primary School in Wau.

The rehab team got an early start this year, heading out in early October. As of November 1 they had already rehabbed 13 older wells, and provided hygiene education in all 13 villages. Older wells, while still producing water, often show signs of erosion and wear. The rehab team visits older WFSS wells to bring them up to new design standards. They make any necessary repairs and then rebuild the cement platform and drainage channel around the well, thus ensuring the well will have many more years of use.

In recent conversations with villagers whose wells were rehabbed we have learned more about the impact of our work. Aluel Wol Nuer was originally trained on well maintenance when a well was drilled in the village of Majama in Western Bahr el Ghazal State, and shared with us how much life has improved since the well was drilled in 2013.

Clean water continues to flow from a rehabbed well in Bahr-Sherki in Western Bahr el Ghazal.

Clean water continues to flow from a rehabbed well in Bahr-Sherki in Western Bahr el Ghazal.

“My life was so bad before the WFSS team arrived in the village,” he said. “We used to drink unclean water which led to sickness. Distance was also quite long; sometimes we may get water, or we may not. People may also sleep on an empty stomach, due to lack of water.”

Sunday Emmnauel Kenyi of Sumut village in Warrap State also shared how hard life was.

“We did drink dirty water,” he recalled. “We were getting waterborne diseases when we used water from unprotected sources.”

Both villagers enthusiasitcally noted the positive impact on their lives and villages.

“I can see the changes in many areas,” said Wol Nuer.

Emmanuel Kenyi agreed. “My life has improved,” he said. “WFSS has helped with clean water. Now we can drink clean water which can make a good quality of life. Our animals are also enjoying water together with us since the well has been drilled.”

Villages where WFSS drilled before 2014 did not receive hygiene training when wells were installed, so a hygiene team now travels with the rehab team to help train villagers in improved hygiene practices.

Drilling Team Preparing for End of November Start

The drilling team requires more preparation to begin a new season, as many more supplies are needed for drilling new wells. WFSS Country Director Ater Akol Thiep is currently in Kampala, Uganda, buying pumps, pipes, and other supplies needed for new wells. Those materials will then be loaded on to trucks to be driven north to Wau, South Sudan. The current plan has the drilling team heading into the field by the end of November. The drilling team also has its own hygiene education team which help villages determine hygiene practices in need of improvement and then delivers village-specific training to help expand the impact of clean water.

The season will start with our older rig, the DR-150, as we await shipment of our new PAT drilling rigs, on their way from Thailand.

“We are very excited to have our new rigs delivered,” said Thiep. “A lot of hard work has gone into the research and planning for this. We look forward to our new and improved drilling rigs to help us drill even faster.”

Stay tuned for more news and updates from WFSS as the 2018-19 season continues. Thank you for your support!


March News - 25 New Wells Drilled, Sanitation Construction Continues

While snow falls in many parts of the US, the temperatures in South Sudan are well over 100 degrees. Our team continues their work, persevering and conquering challenges as we work to transform lives in South Sudan.

VILLAGERS IN Lueth-agok VILLAGE IN AWEIL EAST STATE CELEBRATE THEIR NEW WELl sponsored by king philip middle school in connecticut.

VILLAGERS IN Lueth-agok VILLAGE IN AWEIL EAST STATE CELEBRATE THEIR NEW WELl sponsored by king philip middle school in connecticut.

SOUTH SUDAN UPDATE
Our drilling and rehab teams have been working together to speed up the drilling process for the first part of the season, and have completed 25 wells as of March 14. The drilling team prepares and drills the wells, and is then able to move on to the next village. Meanwhile, the rehab team finishes the newly drilled well by installing the concrete platform. The rehab team will go off on their own in April to work on rehabilitating older wells in need of platform repair.

Our two hygiene teams travel along, one with the drilling team, and one with the rehab team, to deliver hygiene education in every village we visit.

This season, our Country Director, Ater Akol "Lion" Thiep will conduct the 2018 Monitoring and Evaluation of older wells this month, visiting 20 older wells to evaluate and report on their status.

PILOT SANITATION PROJECT
Water for South Sudan has been operating in the WASH (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene) sector for many years, focusing on water (new wells) since 2005, and hygiene education since 2014. This season, we have fully entered the WASH sector with our first pilot sanitation project.

STUDENTS AT ZAGALONA PRIMARY SCHOOL, SITE OF WFSS'S PILOT SANITATION PROJECT, ENJOY FRESH WATER FROM THEIR NEW WELL, THE FIRST DRILLED IN THE 2017-18 SEASON.

STUDENTS AT ZAGALONA PRIMARY SCHOOL, SITE OF WFSS'S PILOT SANITATION PROJECT, ENJOY FRESH WATER FROM THEIR NEW WELL, THE FIRST DRILLED IN THE 2017-18 SEASON.

 

The project broke ground in January, at an elementary school near our compound in Wau. Progress continues, managed by WFSS Associate Country Director AJ Agok, in consultation with our US team in Rochester. The school and community celebrated the groundbreaking, and look forward to use of the new latrine this spring.

We look forward to bringing you more news and photos of this project as it continues.

THANK YOU!
Water for South Sudan is now supported by donors in all 50 US states, and 49 other countries, with Finland joining the fold this month. Thank you to all who support our work to strengthen families, communities, and the young nation of South Sudan.

Follow us on social media as we celebrate World Water Day on March 22. Truly, every day is World Water Day at WFSS.

Bringing Water to Remote South Sudanese Villages

Villagers in bookanyara village receive hygiene education from wfss.

Villagers in bookanyara village receive hygiene education from wfss.

Water for South Sudan (WFSS) continues to deliver on its mission to transform lives in South Sudan by bringing access to fresh water and hygiene education. 

Our team was able to drill 23 new wells in the 2015-16 season, and is hard at work planning for the upcoming 2016-17 season with goals of drilling up to 40 new wells, rehabilitating 20 older wells, and bringing hygiene education to all villages in which we drill.

There are many ways to support our work, through giving online on our website, and also supporting online projects like the WFSS well through GlobalGiving.org

Check out our latest progress report on GlobalGiving!

 

Providing Clean Water for Agriculture Improves Lives in South Sudan

Watering a garden in wau, with water from a wfss well.

Watering a garden in wau, with water from a wfss well.

Here is another post in our continuing series of Water Wednesday blog posts by students at the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.

South Sudan currently faces a water crisis. Across the world, 70 percent of our water supply is used for agriculture and irrigation. However, the South Sudanese do not have enough access to clean water to create sustainable farming for themselves. Even though access to clean water in this country is rare, 80 percent of the poor South Sudanese—which make up about half of the country’s population—rely on agriculture to make a living. Out of the water supply South Sudan has, 97 percent of it is used towards this agriculture. As such, agriculture is a lynchpin on which South Sudan’s population and economy relies.

However, since access to clean water is limited, the South Sudanese not only face limitations in how many crops they can produce, they also face dire nutritional consequences. Thirty-six percent of South Sudanese are classified as food insecure, which means that they do not have sufficient access to nutritious and cost-effective food. In addition, 47 percent of the population is classified as malnourished. In order to help South Sudan thrive, then, there is a fundamental need for clean water so that people can grow crops. This would not only increase the general health of the South Sudanese; it would also lead to a more prosperous economy for this developing country.

This is one of the many needs that Water for South Sudan (WFSS) tries to meet. WFSS raises money to sponsor the drilling of clean water wells in South Sudan. When these wells are built, the South Sudanese have access to clean water to improve health, and also to make a living through agriculture. This not only improves their economy, but also increases their nutritional intake and life spans, as well.

If you would like to find out more about South Sudan’s needs and what you can do to help, please visit the WFSS website to learn about the need for water in South Sudan. To donate to WFSS, please visit the WFSS donation page

Concern for Water Crises Around the World

Hand dug well in maiwut, south sudan

Hand dug well in maiwut, south sudan

This is the third in our series of Water Wednesday blog posts by students at the Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.

The water crisis that Water for South Sudan deals with is truly a universal problem. A couple of days ago I had one of the most interesting conversations so far in my college career. A couple of my friends and I were talking about potential grad schools and future plans after graduation. One of my friends brought up Stanford and how she hoped to go there next fall. Without missing a beat another friend of mine responded, “Yeah if it hasn’t burned down by then.” What he was crudely referring to was the drought crisis that California faces and has faced for some time. It was an interesting statement to hear because the drought has entered the public conscience in the US in a big way. Speaking personally, most of the people whom I talk to know about the drought in California even if their knowledge is just superfluous.

For me, this fact speaks volumes about the media and its ability to reach every citizen, even a group of college kids in New York who are far removed from the situation in California. The situation in California is a terrible one, and many Americans may have family members who are affected by it. In fact, Californiadrought.org reports that at the start of calendar year 2015 as many as 60% of residents were without water in some areas. This is truly a crisis that American citizens are right to be conscience of. However, the way that the media frames the crisis is very interesting to me as an observer. Major news networks such as CNN often use rhetoric such as “it is a fundamental duty to supply people in need with water.” Once again, this is a fascinating statement that I personally hope could apply to more than just the California water crisis.  

Yet, (and I do not mean to belittle it) the crisis in California is nowhere near as widespread or as endemic as the water crisis facing South Sudan. In fact, many areas within South Sudan’s 78 counties do not even have access to clean water at all. Worse still, the water that is available can sometimes contain harmful contaminants that carry a host of diseases. The Huffington Post reports that “Diarrhea caused by inadequate drinking water, sanitation and hand hygiene kills an estimated 842,000 people every year worldwide, and is of the second leading cause of death for children under age five.” In South Sudan alone, deaths in rural areas are estimated in the thousands. Sadder still is that fact that the majority of these deaths are preventable given adequate resources.

 By contrast, California has many resources at its disposal. In fact, as experts point out, California has the wealth and resources to combat their crisis and can also draw on support from the greater US. South Sudan does not have this luxury. Worse still, a large number of counties in South Sudan experience outbreaks of cholera and cannot get access to clean water.  This is a situation that seems unacceptable in the 21st century, and clearly South Sudan needs an advocate the likes of which California has. There are no Hollywood celebrities living in South Sudan; there is very little coverage of their 25 year water crisis in the mainstream US media. This is precisely why we, at a grassroots level, should be involved in fixing that situation. Overall, we in the US must not only be concerned by the plight of our neighbors in the West, but also by the more long term and ongoing plight of South Sudan. 

Water Wednesdays Blog Series

We are pleased to present blog entries from students as part of our Water Wednesdays series.  These students are working with WFSS as part of the Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY.

WASH and UN Sustainable Goals

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On September 25th, 2015, world leaders from over 150 countries met at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. They discussed a set of goals to promote the well-being of the international community over the next 15 years. These 17 goals are called the Sustainable Development Goals and according to the UN website, they hope to achieve three things by 2030: end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and fix climate change.

These 17 goals cover a wide range of topics, such as hunger, gender equality, and economic growth. Goal 6 relates perfectly to the water crisis in South Sudan and the work that Water for South Sudan does to drill wells and increase access to clean, safe water. This goal strives to ensure access to water and sanitation for all through a list of more specific target goals.

The water situation throughout the world has certainly improved over the years; 2.6 billion people have gained access to drinking water since 1990, with the proportion of the global population using an improved drinking water source increasing from 76 percent to 91 percent. However, the UN estimates that 663 million people in the world are still without that access. Sanitation is a similar problem, and as a result of polluted water and a lack of basic sanitation services, preventable diseases are taking innocent lives every day.

Sustainable Development Goal 6 endeavors to provide solutions for these problems. One of these targets, which the UN hopes to achieve by 2030, is “universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.” Other targets include increased water quality by reducing pollution, the protection and restoration of water-related ecosystems, and sanitation and hygiene for all, especially due to the needs of women and girls.

For more information on Goal 6 and the other Sustainable Development Goals, visit http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/

Lost Boy Finds Water in South Sudan

Journalist Ben Dobbin traveled to South Sudan in February of 2015 to follow the progress of Water for South Sudan. His account appeared in the Rochester, NY Democrat and Chronicle on June 1, 2015, and USA Today on June 2, 2015.

Women carrying water in South Sudan. Photo by Ben Dobbin.

Women carrying water in South Sudan. Photo by Ben Dobbin.

Dobbin reports on the success of WFSS, which has now drilled 257 wells in remote villages in South Sudan since 2005. Founded by former "Lost Boy" of Sudan, Salva Dut, WFSS is based in Rochester, New York, USA, but has an operations center, and full-time South Sudanese management team in South Sudan.

The article notes the incredible impact of clean water in South Sudan.

From bathing, cooking and drinking safely to growing a vegetable plot or building a traditional mud-hut tukel, having clean water at hand is a "step up for people who really need it," adds Dut. "Give them a lift and somehow they push on and help themselves."

Read  the full article here.

2014-15 Drilling Season Completed with 40 New Wells

Villagers in Achuirdit, western bahr el ghazal state, proudly display well sponsorship banner.

Villagers in Achuirdit, western bahr el ghazal state, proudly display well sponsorship banner.

The WFSS drilling team finished the 2014-15 drilling season with 40 new wells.  Operating in what continues to be one of the most challenging environments in the world, the team persevered through many obstacles to achieve their goal. They also reached a new milestone as our well number topped 250. WFSS has now drilled 257 wells since 2005.

"When we drilled the first well in my father's village, in 2005, I never dreamed we would drill 100 wells, and now we have drilled over 250," says WFSS Founder Salva Dut. "We have come a long way in ten years."

Our team started drilling in December, 2014, at the beginning of the dry season, when the ground dries out, and our heavy equipment can travel to remote villages in need of fresh water. The first three wells of the season were drilled for the United Peace and Development Project (UPDP), with Omaha, Nebraska-based Aqua-Africa,  and also supported by funds from Rotary International. Aqua-Africa is led by Buey Ray Tut, who is originally from South Sudan, and of Nuer heritage. Buey and WFSS Founder Salva Dut, who is of Dinka heritage, have brought their organizations together to drill water wells in different tribal areas of South Sudan. 

Salva and Buey are devoted to their homeland, and its people, and see water wells, and development, as pathways to peace. "We are all South Sudanese," says Salva. "Working together will help our new country grow up and take its place in the world."

After drilling the UPDP wells, the team continued, traveling into remote areas to drill borehole wells. WFSS drills deep into the earth to reach a refillable aquifer. The wells drilled this year were, on average, about 60 meters deep, which is almost 200 feet. WFSS is able to drill to such depths because of the heavy duty drilling rig it uses.

Our drilling team typically spends three to four days in each village, drilling the well, installing pipes and a pump, then sealing the top of the borehole by creating a cement platform and trough. The finishing touch is an engraved seal, with the date, and the name of the sponsoring donor. Well sponsorship is available to schools, faith-based organizations, civic groups and individuals who donate at least $5,000. The full cost of a well is $15,000.

The WFSS Hygiene Team, launched in 2014, also traveled with the drilling team to each village this season, training villagers in hygiene education and helping them to improve hygiene practices. Villagers who complete the training are then ready to train others. Improved hygiene helps expand the impact of clean water, and further bolsters the health of a village.

Hygiene education includes hand-washing demonstrations

Hygiene education includes hand-washing demonstrations

Extreme weather conditions, with temperatures well over 100°, non-existent roads and lack of infrastructure all contribute to the challenges of drilling in South Sudan. Our team must gather all supplies in Uganda before the season starts. Equipment often breaks down in the extreme heat and dust of South Sudan. Getting replacement parts to South Sudan is an additional challenge. We often locate parts in the US and then try to ship them in an economical and timely manner.

"It's always interesting," notes WFSS Chief Operating Officer Don Fairman. "You can never assume anything. We must always be ready with a new contingency plan or alternative approach." 

And just as one drilling season ends, the planning for another one begins.  Fairman has recently returned from a trip to South Sudan, where he met with Salva, Director of Field Operations Ater "Lion" Thiep, and Assistant Field Operations Supervisor Ajang "AJ" Agok to review equipment, processes and personnel in South Sudan. It was a beneficial trip for WFSS and will be most helpful as we head into the 2015-16 drilling season.

WFSS support continues to grow around the world, with donors now representing all 50 US States and 27 other countries.

Dut is grateful for the support which enables this work.  

"Thanks to all the people, all over the world, we are making a difference in South Sudan."

 

WFSS Team Drills 250th Well

MCC well 2015

Water for South Sudan is pleased to announce that our drilling team has recently completed our 250th well. 

WFSS has been bringing access to fresh water in South Sudan since 2005. We have come a long way since our inaugural season in 2005, when seven wells were drilled, including the very first well, drilled in Founder Salva Dut's village. Salva was inspired by his father, who was gravely ill from waterborne disease, to provide clean water in his homeland.

Kids

Each well that is drilled transforms the lives of the villagers for whom it is drilled. A nearby source of potable water means women and girls do not have to walk miles for water that is often dirty or contaminated. Fresh water means all villagers are healthier, particularly children. Diarrhea caused by poor sanitation, lack of hygiene, and unsafe drinking water, is the second leading cause of child death globally, and the leading cause of child death in sub-Saharan Africa.

WFSS, led by Salva Dut, a former "Lost Boy" of Sudan, continues to provide access to clean water, and hygiene education in remote villages in South Sudan. Salva is joined by Director of Field Operations Ater "Lion" Thiep, and Assistant Field Operations Supervisor Ajang "AJ" Agok, and supported by a drilling team and operations center staff in South Sudan. Working in the newest nation in the world presents constant challenges, but WFSS, through the tireless efforts of its South Sudan drilling team,  has been able to drill wells for the last 10 years.

“I am so thankful to all the people who have supported me to be able to help the people of South Sudan,” says Dut. “I started this as a small project to help my father’s village, and now we are helping hundreds of thousands of people with over 250 wells drilled. I am sure there are children who would have died if they did not have the clean water that WFSS has provided since 2005.”

 The need for clean water in South Sudan remains great. As the 2014-15 comes to a close, with the start of the rainy season in South Sudan, plans are already underway for the next season's drilling, set to begin in December. WFSS is supported by donors in all 50 US states and 24 other countries.

 

World Water Day is March 22. #WaterIs Everything

Water is health

Clean hands can save your life.

Water is essential to human health. The human body can last weeks without food, but only days without water. Water is essential to our survival. Regular handwashing, is for example one of the best ways to remove germs, avoid getting sick, and prevent the spread of germs to others. Up to one trillion germs can live in one gram of poop. 

As for the human body, in average it is made of  50-65% water. Babies have the highest percentage of water; newborns are 78% water.  Every day, every person needs access to water for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene. Water is essential for sanitation facilities that do not compromise health or dignity. The World Health Organization recommends 7.5 liters per capita per day will meet the requirements of most people under most conditions. A higher quantity of about 20 liters per capita per day will take care of basic hygiene needs and basic food hygiene.

Despite impressive gains made over the last decade, 748 million people do not have access to an improved source of drinking water and 2.5 billion do not use an improved sanitation facility. Investments in water and sanitation services result in substantial economic gains. The return on investment of attaining universal access to improved sanitation has been estimated at 5.5 to 1, whereas for universal access of improved drinking-water sources the ration is estimated to be 2 to 1.To cover every person worldwide with safe water and sanitation is estimated to cost US$ 107 billion a year over a five-year period.

Water is nature

Ecosystems lie at the heart of the global water cycle. 

Ecosystems – including, for example, forests, wetlands and grassland – lie at the heart of the global water cycle. All freshwater ultimately depends on the continued healthy functioning of ecosystems, and recognizing the water cycle is essential to achieving sustainable water management. Yet most economic models do not value the essential services provided by freshwater ecosystems. This leads to unsustainable use of water resources and ecosystem degradation. For example, the Okavango river in Africa is one of the last unspoilt ecosystems on earth. Pollution from untreated residential and industrial wastewater and agricultural run-off also weakens the capacity of ecosystem to provide water-related services.

There is a need to shift towards environmentally sustainable economic policies that take account of the interconnection between ecological systems. One challenge is to maintain a beneficial mix between built and natural infrastructure and provision of their respective services.

Economic arguments can make the preservation of ecosystems relevant to decision-makers and planners. Ecosystem valuation demonstrates that benefits far exceed costs of water-related investments in ecosystem conservation. Valuation is also important in assessing trade-offs in ecosystem conservation, and can be used to better inform development plans. Adoption of ‘ecosystem-based management’ is key to ensuring water long-term sustainability.

- See more at: http://www.unwater.org/worldwaterday/learn/en/?section=c325497#sthash.F2rQpNP4.dpuf